Leçons Allemand

Thèmes

German Verbs and their Prepositions, Part I

Just as you should generally memorize the article (der, die, or das) along with each German noun that you learn, it is a good idea to pay attention to which preposition follows any given verb. This may sometimes match the English preposition — for example, Danke für das Essen and "Thank you for the food." However, there are many examples in which the preposition will not be what you would expect based on your knowledge of English. Here are some common examples:

The verb warten ("to wait") is followed by the preposition auf rather than the preposition für. The verb vorbereiten ("to prepare") may be followed by für when it refers to preparing something for a person, such as a meal. However, it is followed by auf in the context of preparing for an event.

 

Jetzt warte ich auf den nächsten Gang.

Now I am waiting for the next course.

Caption 28, Abendessen: mit Marko

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Ja, und bis dahin werde ich mich auf das Studium vorbereiten

Yes, and until then I'll be preparing myself for my studies

Caption 24, Konstantin: ein Freiwilliger in Israel

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In English, we say "I'm interested in politics." In German, the preposition für is used with the reflexive verb sich interessieren

 

Also, ich interessiere mich grade sehr für das Thema Bachelorarbeit.

Well, I'm very interested in the topic of my Bachelor's thesis at the moment.

Caption 49, Geoökologie Cettina interviewt Sarah

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While you congratulate someone on something in English, the German verb gratulieren requires the preposition zu and the dative case. 

 

Einer der Träume ist sicher Frauen und Herren bei Weltmeisterschaften zum WM-Titel zu gratulieren.

One of the dreams is certainly to congratulate the women and the men at the World Championships on the World Championship title.

Captions 51-52, Frauenfußball-WM: Der Bundespräsident am Ball

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In English we have sympathy for someone, whereas in German the preposition mit is used. 

 

Der Jäger hatte Mitleid mit ihr und Schneewittchen lief in den Wald hinein.

The Hunter had sympathy for her and Snow White ran into the forest.

Caption 32, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Schneewittchen

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In another instance where the preposition is not what you would necessarily expect, the German verb for "to participate in" is an etwas teilnehmen.

 

Ab welchem Alter darf man in Deutschland an der Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag teilnehmen?

Starting at what age are you allowed to participate in parliamentary elections in Germany?

Caption 14, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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Further Learning
We will be back with more verb/preposition false friends from time to time and point out common examples to be aware of. In the meantime, you can look at this previous newsletter, which also mentioned this tricky topic. However, the best way to get used to these inconsistencies is by watching videos on Yabla German! As you do, you will take note of phrases that employ a given verb with its correct preposition, which you can then implement when you speak.

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